Neal Haley is a Seattle-based personal trainer & fitness instructor with a passion for helping people feel their very best.
We visited with Neal (along with her partner Miguel & their adorable pup Honey Bee) at their home in north Seattle, where she has transformed their outdoor space into a COVID-safe gym for her personal training clients.
What has your journey been like becoming a personal trainer? Why are you personally passionate about exercise?
My fitness journey began late compared to other athletes. I grew up in a home full of artists. My family was never very outdoorsy or active and as a kid, I had more energy than my parents knew what to do with. From an early age, I had a difficult time sleeping. My energy seemed limitless. I started working out so I could exhaust myself enough to sleep at night. My struggle with insomnia got really rough in my early 20’s. Sleep medication didn’t seem to work for me, so I worked out. I took every class I could find. I got a personal trainer and learned how to lift weights. And you know what? It helped! Beyond just helping me sleep at night, working out brought me a deep sense of joy and satisfaction that I had never felt before. I thrived by challenging myself, redefining my limits, and competing against the me I was the day before.
Fast forward a few years and here I am making fitness my career! I decided to pursue something that makes me happy, pushes my limits and gives me a sense of purpose. If you take a class or train with me, you’ll see just how much I LOVE to move. I hope to share that joy with you.
What are some of your core values as a trainer?
Work out because you love your body, not because you hate it.
You should enjoy your workouts.
Movement is for everybody and every body!
What is your favorite workout or type of exercise?
My favorite types of exercise are weight training, boxing and HIIT (high intensity interval training).
Can you share with us your secret to motivation?
Motivation comes and goes. When you have it, ride that wave! When you don't have it, lean into routine and consistency. Or try something new and fun to keep your exercise fresh.
Do you have a favorite saying, quote, or idea that drives you as a professional?
I don't know if I have an idea or quote that drives me per say, but I often play Curtis Mayfield's Move on Up. It's my own personal montage music.
"Move on up, and keep on wishing
Remember your dream is your only scheme
So keep on pushing"
How does healthy eating play into your overall wellness philosophy?
Food is fuel, but it's also community, joy, and comfort.
I think the fitness world overcomplicates eating a lot. Unless l'm working towards a very specific athletic goal, I don't diet. Diets don't last and too much restriction isn't sustainable. I try to eat lots of protein, veg, fruit, and carbs and have fun with food!!
What is a valuable lesson you’ve learned since beginning your career?
Maybe this isn't a very exciting answer, but the biggest thing I've learned since starting my business is to be consistent and patient.
What kinds of changes--physical, mental, etc--do your clients anticipate while working with you?
A lot of times clients start training with aesthetic based goals in mind (get abs, lose weight, etc), though those things may come, I think my philosophy in training is more about the joy that moment brings and how it's a vital part of everyone's self care. Eventually working out becomes more about feeling empowered and strong and less about looking a certain way. Mentally my clients gain confidence when they do something they thought was possible like squatting 100lbs or completing their first pull up.
Can you talk a little more about the types of services you offer and where to find you for a class?
I offer personal training and small group training either virtually or at my outdoor home gym in Shoreline. I'm also working on putting together packages of home workout videos that I'm hoping to have completed early 2021.
You can find out more info and reach out to me via my website at nealhaleyfitness.com
Can you tell us more about the virtual training that you’re offering, and how you have been modifying for remote, at-home sessions?
I offer virtual sessions via Zoom. Depending on each client's goals and what equipment (if any) they have to work with at home, I create specialized workouts that I guide them through. I focus on proper form, efficient planning, and challenging exercises.
I've also built out a full gym in my backyard in Shoreline. It's covered to protect from rain, but it's outdoors to help with air circulation. I sanitize all equipment prior to each use and wear a mask at all times. This is the safest way I've found to workout in person during this weird time.
What impact has COVID-19 had on your client interactions and what adaptations have you made this year to accommodate for limited social gatherings?
I went from working large groups at a gym to working with 1-3 people max in my home gym. This year has forced me to roll with the punches, but it's honestly been the push I needed to start my own business and pursue my dreams.